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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.75 n.2 Pretoria  2010


A consumer perspective on food labelling: Ethical or not?


'n Verbruikersperspektief op voedseletikettering: eties of nie?



M. van der Merwe ; K. Venter

Department of Consumer Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, POTCHEFSTROOM. E-mail:




This article provides a review of ethical food labelling from a consumer perspective and makes recommendations to the food industry and regulators regarding ethical food labelling in order to satisfy consumers' food-labelling needs. Various studies have found that many consumers have negative perceptions regarding food labelling. However, research on consumers' perspectives regarding ethical food labelling has been accorded little attention. This article addresses this topic through a review of the relevant literature of mostly quantitative research, but also includes qualitative and mixed method studies. The article examines such aspects as the trustworthiness of claims on food labels, intelligibility of label information, listing of food additives on labels, and labelling of genetically modified foods. As negative perspectives on food labelling are likely to affect consumers' decision making regarding the purchasing of food products, the food industry must realise their responsibility to provide ethical food labels. The food industry and regulators should aim to provide risk communication and intelligible information through ethical food labels and consumer education programmes on food labelling. Consumers need to be aware of their right to know what they are purchasing through ethical food labels and take a stand in this regard.

Key concepts: consumer consumer education food ethics food labelling


Hierdie artikel bied 'n oorsig oor etiese voedseletikettering vanuit 'n verbruikersperspektief en maak aanbevelings aan die voedselindustrie en -reguleerders rakende etiese voedseletikettering om verbruikers se voedseletiketteringsbehoeftes te bevredig. Verskeie studies het bevind dat verbruikers meestal negatiewe persepsies ten opsigte van voedseletikettering het. Min aandag word egter geskenk aan navorsing aangaande verbruikers se perspektiewe oor etiese voedseletikettering. Hierdie onderwerp word in dié artikel aangesny deur middel van 'n oorsig van die betrokke literatuur van meestal kwantitatiewe navorsing, maar ook van kwalitatiewe en gemengde-metode studies. Aspekte soos die betroubaarheid van aansprake op voedseletikette, verstaanbaarheid van voedseletiketinligting, 'n lys van voedseladditiewe op etikette, en etikettering van geneties-gemodifiseerde voedsel word ondersoek. Aangesien negatiewe persepsies van voedseletikettering moontlik ook 'n impak op verbruikers se besluitneming ten opsigte van die aankoop van voedselprodukte mag hê, sal die voedselreguleerders en die voedselindustrie hulle verantwoordelikheid moet besef om etiese voedseletikette te voorsien. Die voedselindustrie en -reguleerders moet daarna streef om risikokommunikasie en verstaanbare inligting deur etiese voedseletikette asook verbruikersopleidingsprogramme oor voedseletikettering te voorsien. Verbruikers moet bewus wees van hulle reg om te weet wat hulle koop deur etiese voedseletikette en behoort standpunt in hierdie verband te kan inneem.

Kernbegrippe: verbruiker verbruikersopvoeding voedseletiek voedseletikettering



Full text available only in pdf format.



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